Literature That Saves: Matilda as a Reader of Great Expectations in Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
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The article reflects on the therapeutic and ethical potential of literature, the theme which is often marginalized and overlooked by literary critics, in the novel Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. Matilda, the main character of the analyzed novel, finds salvation in the times of war and oppression thanks to Charles Dickens’s masterpiece, Great Expectations, and the only white man on the island−her teacher, Mr. Watts. Matilda’s strong identification with Dickensian Pip (their similarities and differences) and imagination make her escape to another world, become a self-conscious person and reunite with her father. The paper also discusses relationships between Matilda, Mr. Watts (her spiritual guide and creator of her story, who presents the girl with expectations for a better future) and her mother, Dolores. I attempt to show the emotional development of the characters, their interactions, changes, sense of identity (significant for both Jones and Dickens), and, having analyzed their actions, I compare them to protagonists created by Charles Dickens (Pip, Miss Havisham, Estella). Needless to say, drawing the reader’s attention to British culture and traditions, Lloyd Jones avoids focusing on the negative aspects of the postcolonial views, pointing out that “the white man” can be an example of a Dickensian gentleman.